7 Artists to Watch

The up-and-coming artists you won’t be able to take your eyes off this fall

David Hanbury

Performance Artist

Hanbury’s alter-ego, Mrs. Smith, has been a beloved fixture at the Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater since she first wandered in looking for her cat Carlyle—the latest success for the multi-talented man who sold out his first play, God Save Gertrude, after moving to Minnesota from Boston in 2007. “This is the place to come if you want to do something different,” he says. “This is the place for me.” Mrs. Smith’s Halloween Spooktacular! plays October 16, 23, and 29, Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater, bryantlakebowl.com

Namir Smallwood


There are no bigger sandals to fill than those of Jesus (at Penumbra Theatre) or Puck (at the Guthrie). And this Jersey boy is just getting started, having graduated from the Guthrie’s BFA Actor Training Program in 2006. “I got a flyer in the mail about the program, and I almost threw it in the garbage,” he says. “I had no intention of coming to Minnesota. My mother implored me.” Smallwood stars in Ten Thousand Things’s Life is a Dream, opening October 29, Open Book, tenthousandthings.org


Alison Scott


Scott had already sold out six shows in a row at the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant. But she knew she’d made it when Jon Bon Jovi loaned her his blowdryer the night she opened for him at the Xcel this past summer. In September, she released her first major album, full of soulful grooves harking to her parents’ Stevie Wonder records. “My bandmates call my family the Partridges,” she says. “We had lots of sing-a-longs growing up.” Get the new album, Chinese Whispers, at alisonscott.com


Emily Gunyou Halaas


The Star Tribune called her “an absolute powerhouse” in her first show at the Guthrie Theater two years ago, Wendy Wasserstein’s Third. And the accolades, including last year’s Ivey Award for Emerging Artist, haven’t slowed. “I love it here,” she says, having cut her teeth in New York. “Our pride in the land and our cities and everything, really, that’s ours. Plus, we love it when people move here from somewhere else.” Gunyou Halaas stars in the Guthrie’s The Master Butchers Singing Club running through November 6, guthrietheater.org


Terrence Payne


He made his name with canvases depicting shy boxers and gunfighters wielding sticks as weapons. Now Payne is branching out, designing textiles, reopening Rosalux Gallery, and garnering part of a group show at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. “I think the art scene here is in a great place right now,” he says. “There’s healthy competition and more nonprofit galleries, which often means more interesting work.” The MIA’s “Flourish: Jennifer Davis, Erika Olson Gross, Terrence Payne, and Joe Sinness” opens October 22, artsmia.org


Vanessa Voskuil


With the award-winning Live Action Set, Voskuil honed a poetic, engaging form of dance theater. Now she’s won a McKnight Fellowship and set about defining a new sub-genre—dance designed for film, complete with close-ups, abstraction, and new narrative ideas—and is curating a show of films blending the mediums. “I was overwhelmed by the possibilities at first,” she says of dance on film. “It makes dance accessible in a whole new way.” Dance Film Project screens December 17 and 18, Southern Theater, southerntheater.org


Steven Copes


To form Accordo, the hot new chamber group of the Southern Theater, Copes, the concertmaster of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, didn’t look far. He recruited his stand partner, Ruggero Allifranchini, on violin and fellow SPCOers Maiya Papach on viola and Ronald Thomas on cello, plus Minnesota Orchestra cellist Anthony Ross. “We get people who aren’t worried about wearing the right clothes for a classical concert, who want to enjoy a drink and hear a show,” he says. “Why not?” Accordo plays November 21 and 22, Southern Theater, southerntheater.org

For interviews with each artist, read “Conversations on Art.”